A blocked drain is something that is pretty difficult to ignore and it seems consumers in Britain are increasingly fighting back against dirty drains. Indeed, sales of drain care products increased by 16% year on year to 2014, providing a £5 million boost to the UK household cleaning market.

Boost to drain cleaners

A rise in new product development and marketing support has helped brands such as Buster and Cillit Bang record big increases in sales in the category. Products under the Buster brand from Challs include Buster Plughole Unblocker (Bathroom and Kitchen variants) and Buster Plughole Sanitiser, while Reckitt Benckiser offers Cillit Bang Gel and the Cillit Band Drain Unlocker Kit, released in 2015. SC Johnson has a presence through My Muscle Kitchen & Bathroom Drain Foamer and Mr Muscle Kitchen & Bathroom Gel, while Unilever offers Domestos Sink & Pipe Unblocker.

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Clean plugholes important part of bathroom cleaning

Cleaning the bathroom is an unavoidable task for most consumers, and as Brits roll up their sleeves to tackle the grime, plugholes are playing on their minds. Indeed, Mintel’s Cleaning the Bathroom UK 2015 report found that plugholes being free of hair and soap scum is the fourth most important aspect of bathroom cleaning, with 57% of Brits who have a bathroom/shower/wetroom in their home including it among the top five aspects of bathroom cleaning most important to them.

Other aspects of bathroom cleaning that are important also relate to maintaining clean plugholes, including killing germs and getting rid of bad smells. The latter is one of the key signals that drain care products might be needed, along with water failing to drain away or only draining away slowly due to blockages of hair and soap scum.

What does it mean for the cleaning market?

The big increase that we have seen in sales of drain care products, including plughole unblockers and sanitisers, still offers a significant opportunity for further growth in the household cleaning market.

Brands in drain care can also further grow sales both through attracting new users and by educating people of the need to regularly clean their plugholes to keep them free flowing, germ free and smelling fresh – all shown as high priorities to consumers when it comes to cleaning the bathroom.

The hike in sales of plughole unblockers and sanitisers also shows consumers are keen for solutions to common bathroom problems that have previously not been fully exploited by household cleaning brands, having previously been catered for by products such as bleach and caustic soda.

Encouraging the purchasing of a wider repertoire of added-value specialist cleaning products can therefore help to move the focus of shopping for household cleaning products away from price and can prove more profitable for both manufacturers and retailers.

Richard Caines is Senior Household Analyst at Mintel and researches and writes Mintel’s Household Care reports. He has also worked as a Senior Analyst on Mintel’s household retail reports. Before Richard joined Mintel in 1998, he was Senior Editor at Key Note, a publisher of market information reports.

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